Metro Posting Signs For 'Next Bus' Return
A lot of the old signs were still visible at many bus stops, but Metro says it's posting thousands more as it prepares to relaunch the Next Bus system on July 1.
It's a relaunch because last time the thing didn't work. The system is supposed to show people when the next couple of buses are scheduled to arrive at their stop, but it wasn't accurate enough, so Metro GM John B. Catoe Jr. had it taken down for retooling in 2007.
If this works, it will be a huge breakthrough for regional transit. There are few moments longer than those spent standing at a bus stop, looking down the road for a sign of hope that the bus is approaching. We do have some bus services now that operate every 10 minutes. That's great, but most riders aren't near those routes. The Next Bus system will serve more than 12,000 stops region wide.
This isn't quite like the platform signs in all Metrorail stations that announce the next three train arrivals. With Next Bus, there will be electronic signs at some bus stops. But the more widespread use of the service will be through Metro's Web site or by telephone. You'll look at one of the red, white and blue signs now being posted, see your bus stop number and call 202-637-7000 to get the arrival times.
This is GPS technology, but it still involves some calculations and estimates about typical traffic patterns, but the estimates are updated very two minutes. Metro says the predictions made by the repaired system should be accurate to within several minutes.
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